Hydroponic gardening is not a new concept, but many people are not sure how it works. It was actually used thousands of years ago to grow plants. It is thought to have been the method used to grow the Hanging Gardens of Babylon way back in 600 BC.
Another culture that used hydroponics to grow plants was the Aztecs who grew plants for food on their rafts when they were driven out of their land and had nowhere else to grow them. There were also floating gardens in China around the 13th century. During World War II, beans and vegetables were grown on an island in the Pacific Ocean to ensure that soldiers had vegetables to keep them healthy.
With cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses running rampant, maybe it’s time to look at alternative ways of growing vegetables, grains, and other foods. Soil is not necessary for growing plants, but the minerals in the soil are required. They can be added to water to grow almost any plant. Besides using hydroponics to grow food where there is a lack of space for traditional farming such as in Tokyo or Bermuda, or a lack of light as in Alaska, hydroponics eliminates the need to grow food in soil that is full of pollutants. Research has been done on growing hydroponic plants in space in the event that humans will someday live on other planets, but science should focus on the here and now on earth. How can consumers get more nutritious and healthier foods that will boost their immune systems so that they are not vulnerable to today’s diseases? Could the soil in which our foods are grown be contributing to these diseases? It is a possibility that should be carefully researched and examined.
Getting the vegetables that we eat from pure water that has not been polluted may lead to longevity, better health, and great reductions in diseases that plague the earth. Although enough studies have not been completed to prove that the soil in which produce is grown contribute to illness and disease, this could well be the case. Perhaps humans have abused and overused the soil so much that it is no longer healthy to grow food in it. Billions of dollars are paid to Big Pharma each year to treat diseases, yet very little is used to find the cause of diseases and natural ways to heal them.
It is a fact that soil pollution has caused damage to areas where crops cannot be safely grown any longer, and even farm areas that are thought to be safe may have dangerous levels of chemicals that have leaked from nearby storage tanks of pesticides, gasoline, and other pollutants. Even airborne pollutants eventually make their way to the ground when it rains.
Pollutants such as mercury, lead, arsenic, DDT, and benzene can be found in soil, and they all have negative effects on the health of humans. Some are known to cause some of the most prevalent diseases of humankind today. Mercury, for example, makes its way into the soil when electronics and batteries containing this element are burned. Since mercury is not biodegradable, it is not able to break down into less harmful substances since it is a basic element. Mercury affects the nervous system of humans and interferes with normal brain functioning. It can also have a negative effect on the kidneys and on the IQ of children who are exposed to it. Very few people dispose of used batteries in the proper way. When millions of old batteries are thrown into the garbage can and are either incinerated or buried in the ground at the dump, the mercury from them will seep into nearby soil.
DDT has been banned in the U.S. and in some other countries because of its toxicity, but it is used extensively in some parts of the world. Arsenic gets into the soil from the disposal of military weapons and from the manufacturing of glass. Lead is another soil pollutant that causes infertility and joint and muscle pain as well as high blood pressure. Benzene also pollutes the soil when this dangerous chemical leaks into the soil from corroding petroleum storage tanks. It causes aplastic anemia in humans. Further testing needs to be done to determine what other diseases these pollutants cause when humans eat food that has absorbed the toxins from the soil.
If there is an alternative to growing food in soil, such as hydroponic gardening, it only makes sense to get the food we eat out of the soil if there is any danger of unknown pollutants in it. Even when soil is tested and found to be free from any of the well-known toxins, benzene or another poison could occur at any time after that. Also, there may be other toxic chemicals in the ground that are not known to cause health problems at this stage of human development. The answer to the problem of soil pollution is to use hydroponically grown foods, which are foods grown without soil, whenever possible.
The safest way to grow the food we eat is through hydroponics. A growing number of health conscious persons are eating only vegetables grown this way because of the health benefits associated with them. Filtered water can be used that is known to be pure and the necessary minerals needed to grow plants can be added. Not only is hydroponically grown food not put into the soil, but it usually requires no chemicals in growing. Many hydroponic foods are therefore organically grown without any toxic materials.
Some people say that foods grown this way taste better as well. A study was conducted by Plant Research Technologies Incorporated in California which compared the nutritional value of hydroponically grown tomatoes and sweet peppers with those traditionally grown in soil. Plants that were hydroponically grown were found to have “a dramatic increase in vitamins and minerals in hydroponics, in some cases up to 50% higher in vitamin content.”
Besides better nutritional content in hydroponically grown produce, this system offers other advantages as well. Growing plants can be an ongoing process so that the earth’s population can eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown close to their home rather than those that have been shipped thousands of miles. Hydroponic plants often mature faster and produce larger crops than those raised in the soil, and this occurs without the use of pesticides and fertilizers in many cases. Water can be reused as well, a real advantage in parts of the world with water shortages.
Although hydroponic growing equipment can be expensive to buy, it is a purchase that will last for a long time. In the future, modern kitchens will probably have a hydroponic growing space built in under cabinets so that each family can grow their own herbs, vegetables, and flowers. There’s no need to wait until then though. All it takes to grow hydroponic plants is some basic knowledge on the nutrients needed for various plant species, some simple equipment, and a small space in your home.
Consumers need to demand further soil testing for toxins that are affecting the health of Americans and of people all around the world. Until proven otherwise, there is a chance that Mother Earth is no longer able to serve her residents by providing nontoxic soil for growing food.
The Editors of Hydroponics.com. “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – 5-10 servings a day” Hydroponcs.com<http://www.hydroponics.com/howtoinfo/hydroponics%20articles/healthy_hydroponics_vegetables.html> December 4, 2011.
The Editors of Science Tech Entrepreneur. “Hydroponics” January, 2007. Science Tech Entrepreneur <http://www.techno-preneur.net/information-desk/sciencetech-magazine/2007/jan07/Hydroponics.pdf. December 4, 2011.
Walker, Cydney. “Health Hazards Due to Soil Pollution” July 27, 2010. Livestrong.com <http://www.livestrong.com/article/186249. December 3, 2011.